The week's best parenting advice: January 11, 2022
What's the deal with flurona, getting tweens to sleep, and more
Yes, flurona is a real thing
Earlier this month, Israel reported its first case of so-called "flurona" — an infection of COVID-19 and influenza at the same time — and according to experts, children can catch it, reports Nicole Harris in Parents. "It is actually not uncommon for children to contract more than one virus at a time," says pediatrician Kristina Deeter. The only sure way to detect flurona is to get tested for both illnesses because although COVID-19 is more likely to result in shortness of breath and loss of taste or smell, and the flu may involve more aches and chills, their other symptoms overlap. The best way to avoid flurona is to get vaccinated against both viruses, which the CDC says is safe to do in a single sitting. Other than that, "practice social distancing, wear a mask in crowded indoor places, wash your hands [often], and stay home if you're feeling sick."
How to get a tween to sleep
A lot of advice about getting children to sleep is geared toward babies and toddlers, but what about tweens and teens? That's a whole different ball game, writes Meghan Leahy in The Washington Post. Over-packed schedules, technology, and shifting internal clocks complicate sleep for older kids. Parents can't have control when teens go to bed, and everyone's sleep habits change with age, so encouraging good sleep habits requires working with your kids to develop guidelines that work for everyone. With the exception of technology (it's worth insisting that your child's smartphone and tablet leave the room by a certain time every night), avoid laying down rules without your child's input. Instead, commit to regular family meetings in order to hash out these likely ever-changing boundaries. Other than that, focus on getting your kids moving outside, because "sunlight and exercise do more for sleep than any rule you make."
When we talk about COVID, our kids are listening
To say that life is scary, confusing, and frustrating for parents right now is an understatement. But the reality is that when we panic about school closures and pediatric hospitalization rates, or judge other parents for their decisions under the circumstances, our children are listening — which makes it important to watch how we talk in front of them, writes Samantha Darby in Romper. If, God forbid, our kids catch the virus, or someone close to them does, "how we discuss the current surge in cases, how we continue to talk about the pandemic, will determine how our children react," whether with fear, anxiety, sympathy, or anger. So as scary as things are, try to focus on how things have improved — we know a heck of a lot more about how the virus spreads than we did two years ago, we have vaccines available for everyone over 5, and vaccines for those under 5 are coming soon — when in earshot of your kids.
Are you overusing your baby monitor?
There are few modern parenting technologies more revolutionary than the baby monitor. But as comforting as it is to know what your child is doing behind closed doors, overusing a baby monitor can cause issues for kids down the road, writes Brendan Knapp in Parents. Immediately running into a child's room every time they call out for a binky or stuffed animal may hamper their ability to self-soothe. And as babies grow into children, the constant nightly surveillance may lead kids to question their own safety, which can cause anxiety. Monitor-loving parents should stop and ask themselves if there is a real safety issue that warrants the surveillance. If not, parents should gradually learn to cope without constant monitoring so that the habit doesn't persist throughout childhood.
The truth about 'advanced' maternal age
For decades, medical professionals and prospective mothers have regarded 35 as a kind of "Cinderella clock" for fertility, but mounting evidence suggests the number is mostly arbitrary, writes Jessica Grose in The New York Times. According to global health professor Jessica Cohen, "your risk of Down, your risk of stillbirth, pre-eclampsia — none of those change abruptly at 35." In fact, Cohen recently co-authored a study suggesting that women just over 35 may have slightly better pregnancy outcomes than those just under 35. Examining over 50,000 pregnancies, the researchers found that perinatal mortality was lower in women over 35 and there was no difference in maternal mortality, preterm birth, or low birth weight between the two groups. In other words, "there's nothing magical about age 35."